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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24467
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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What would cause a seemingly very healthy dog to become weak

Customer Question

What would cause a seemingly very healthy dog to become weak so much that it would have trouble walking up steps and standing? The dog seems to be happy and stable in all other areas except as noted.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 6 months ago.

There are quite a few considerations in such a patient. Profound anemia, cardiopulmonary disorders, and metabolic disorders such as Addison's disease (hypoadrenocorticism) are important differential diagnoses.

Inherited neurologic disorders causing weakness or inherited muscle disorders causing progressive muscle atrophy, weakness, and collapse occur rarely and when they do are mostly seen in young dogs. Partial seizures resembling episodic weakness/collapse are a consideration but, once again, unlikely, considering the history you provided. A video of Cinnamon's behavior is very important for the practitioner to see. Important information includes whether the weakness occurred acutely or was progressive over time; whether there have been any historical or concurrent systemic abnormalities, duration of weakness, mentation/consciousness during the episodes of weakness, activity, and events preceding weakness (e.g., possible triggers).

The physical exam findings which may directly assist diagnosis include:

Pallor, hypotension - active bleeding

Weak femoral pulses, muffled heart sounds, irregular heart rate - cardiac disease

Inspiratory or expiratory dyspnea - pulmonary disease

Abnormalities of proprioception (knowing where one's limbs are in space) and nociception (deep pain perception), and/or reflexes - spinal cord disorder

Neurologic abnormalities - brain disorder

Muscle atrophy, fever, muscle pain, joint pain, bone pain - musculoskeletal disorder

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.